Trump sets plan to renegotiate NAFTA, local lawmakers keeping watch

Reuters

The future of NAFTA has been uncertain since Trump announced in November a year ago that he would withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), another trade deal that covers 12 nations.

Although the Trump administration wants to bring back manufacturing jobs and a draft letter on reworking NAFTA specifically mentioned textiles, that may not be possible for textiles, Hayes said.

"I would note that many of these negotiations will be bilateral and numerous issues are bilateral, but our hope is that we will end up with a structure that is similar to what we have now", he said. "We're advancing in that process and we think if we continue like that we'll be able, before two weeks are up, to narrow our differences", he told reporters. The world has changed, we've learned a lot, and we can make it better.

US refiners want Mexico to send more raw sugar and limit Mexican refined sugar imports.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn released this statement after the announcement of NAFTA negotiations. "The countries of North America deserve a modern instrument to regulate their trade relations".

While both sides concede Nafta needs updating, the congressional Republicans most likely to support a final deal would rather see a tweaking, since a significant overhaul or major new provisions could end up eroding the benefits companies and farmers get from reliable, duty-free exports to Canadian and Mexican markets.

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He said he hoped to maintain the current trilateral format of Nafta, but noted that many of Nafta's problems are bilateral issues that need to be worked out with either Mexico or Canada. American Farm Bureau "looks forward to working with the administration, Congress, other agricultural groups, and officials in Canada and Mexico to protect these important markets while also addressing issues that have limited the trade potential of USA farmers and ranchers". Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Reps.

NAFTA, which took effect in 1994, was a three-country accord negotiated by Canada, Mexico and the United States with an aim to eliminate most tariffs on products traded among the three countries.

That follows on the heels of disputes with Canada over lumber imports and dairy exports, and with Mexico over sugar imports, just a small sample of the many trade disputes announced in the last three months.

Reps. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., and Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., called the Thursday announcement disappointing "for those of us who believe that USA trade policy - and NAFTA - needs fundamental reform".

Commenting on the news, Oregon Democrat Senator Jeff Merkley said, "The key question for trade deals is whether they create good-paying jobs for working Americans, or destroy good-paying jobs". Admittedly, they expected TPP to help them mainly by granting better access to Asian export markets - something that Nafta-plus can't give them.

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland described NAFTA's record as "one of economic growth and job creation" across the continent. "We are steadfastly committed to free trade in the North American region and to ensuring that the benefits of trade are enjoyed by all Canadians".

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